Massage Therapy and Athletic Performance

Athletic training can be rigorous. Competitive or not, there will likely be demands challenging your body’s strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, breath work and cardiovascular abilities.  Massage Therapy can support your training.  Massage can offer greater flexibility, faster recovery, decreased soreness, diminished inflammation, reduced tension -and- it can help prevent injuries. Not to mention better sleep and the positive psychological effects of deep relaxation.

Reduces Inflammation  Studies do show that treatments for sore muscles such as ice baths and anti-inflammatory medications can reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, these methods tend to block muscle repair and growth. Massage, on the other hand, has the ability to calm the inflammation process by reducing pain and activating efficient lymphatic circulation. Massage also speeds muscle recovery by promoting mitochondrial biogenesis (i.e. healthy cellular growth).

Improves Circulation/ Reduces Tension  Deep Tissue Massage can help you train more efficiently.  Tight muscles are problematic in terms of blood flow. If tight muscles slow down blood flow to muscles, then they also slow down the removal of metabolites. Nutrients gained from adequate nutrition are transported in the blood to rebuild broken-down tissues and make them stronger. If muscles are tight, that will reduce blood flow during the recovery phase. The result will be less than ideal progress.

Improves Flexibility  Flexible joints require less energy to move through a greater range of motion. But training and competition can lead to increased tension and restriction. The effects may include development of adhesions where the muscle, fascia, and other tissues stubbornly stick together.  Massage can soften and release these restrictions and stretch muscle fibers, making flexibility in larger muscles groups more accessible. 

Pain Reduction  Massage alleviates muscular pain caused by overwork or injury. If an athlete is in pain, they will not perform optimally. Pain is also a message that something is wrong.  Massage can rehabilitate problem areas in soft tissue and keep you working at peak levels.

Sleep Improvement  Sleep is an important part of the recovery process.  The athlete who goes to bed in a high-tension state will have difficulty getting to sleep and may often wake during the night or wake too early. All of this compromises recovery. Regular massage treatments will reduce tension and promote deeper and longer sleep.

By having a quality massage treatment every few weeks, Athletes can reduce inflammation, improve circulation, increase flexibility, reduce pain and improve their sleep cycle.  It is worth considering if you are having problems recovering from workouts. Massage Therapy can also help to identify potential trouble spots and micro-injuries before they progress into something more serious. Ultimately, massage can make your training efforts more efficient.  So treat yourself to a massage, your body and your performance will thank you for it.


Genevieve Garvin, CMT

Genevieve has been practicing bodywork for the past 23 years.  She is the owner/operator of Chikitsa Healing Arts in Carlsbad, CA and specializes in Deep Tissue, Myofascial Release and Craniosacral Therapy.  She has worked with many athletes over the years, and is passionate about serving people.  She is also a dedicated Ashtanga Yoga Student, Teacher, Visual Artist and Mother of 2 fantastic kids who use her as their test dummy for Jiu Jitsu moves.